The master of macabre, Alice Cooper, has graced the stage of Sydney for the first time in some years. Bringing along fellow rock veteran Ace Frehley and homegrown heroes Strangers, Cooper masterfully asserted his position atop the shock rock food chain with a breaking set-list and a deliciously wicked show.

Strangers were the first to take the stage. You can imagine the nerves that must be involved with setting the groundwork for two rock ‘n’ roll legends but Strangers masked it well. Their set was solid and as it went on an impish sense of fun coursed throughout the grumbling guitars and pounding drums, almost certainly winning the band a few new loyal head-bangers for their gigs to come.

Ace Frehley followed, strutting his way through a set of well-known numbers from the KISS catalogue as well as his solo work. Although the band was a tight unit, the repetitive nature of Frehley’s songs became all too obvious when not backed up by a compelling visual show. Frehley seemed a little stiff and at times even bored during his set, leading to a sense of dragging as it entered its final stages. Despite this, a number of the tracks still managed to entertain the crowd, with a sing-a-long of ‘New York Groove’ being the undisputed highlight.

And then it began. An ominous voice-over underscored the dimming lights and glowing almighty eyes pulsed on the curtain, which hid the main act. The violently crushing guitar riff of set opener ‘Brutal Planet’ dropped the curtain and Alice Cooper materialised on stage. From that moment on, the stage and the crowd were his. Cooper’s presence exuded from his fiber as he skulked around the nightmarish on-stage set design. Fan favourites were ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ and ‘Poison,’ which followed early in the set before the really meaty theatrics began to take hold of the show. Highlights from there on included a giant Frankenstein monster rushing the stage during ‘Feed My Frankenstein,’ a creepy and mesmerizing dance from Sheryl Cooper—looking like a wind-up murder doll—and the classic guillotine decapitation of Cooper to end the initial set. An encore of ‘School’s Out’ closed out the carnage; ensuring casual fans were left as happy as the hardcore aficionados.

Alice Cooper has done little to allow his half- a-century-long career to slow him down. His band backed him to a point of perfection, with a rock-solid feel and enough energy to give Cooper a run for his money during certain points. No one to take the stage that night could have matched Cooper’s presence and command, however. Such a presence comes only from being at the top of your game for decades. And with such a long career behind him, it probably won’t be long before Cooper hands up the cane. As such, we strongly suggest you catch this wonderfully dark, devilishly fun live show before it’s gone.

Paranormal is out now.

Get the JB Hi-Fi 2CD special edition here.
Get the JB Hi-Fi 2CD and t-shirt limited deluxe box set edition here.
Get the JB Hi-Fi 2LP 180gm vinyl here.

– Monday 23 October



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Photos: Jonathan Armstrong